In addition to running DIY workshops for residents affected by the disaster, the Ishinomaki Laboratory has participated in restoring and renovating local shops, as well as creating spaces where people can reimagine the future of their city together.

The lab has co-ordinated furniture workshops for the local community. The furniture constructed is offered to residents free of charge. These design-centred workshops, where DIY skills and ideas are shared, are still being run today.

Each Ishinomaki bird can be polished, painted and coloured to create a one-off design. By carefully rounding the edges with sandpaper, the bird slowly takes on a gentler and softer form. A chirping sound, imitating the sound of a bird call, is created by turning the wooden bird’s head back and forth.

Combining good design with ‘handmade’ products, the Ishinomaki Laboratory brand now markets products, including the wooden Bird Kit, beyond the local community. Designers, from Japan and around the world, work together with the Ishinomaki Laboratory team to create furniture and other items.

The ethos behind Ishinomaki Laboratory is that DIY and design can energise people and communities and life as a whole in any situation or environment. The hope is that people around the world can rediscover their own innate creativity, to enrich everyday life and society for a more fulfilling future.

Located in Miyagi Prefecture, Honshu, the city of Ishinomaki, was one of the communities worst hit by the 2011 tsunami.  Waves up to ten metres flooded up to five kilometres inland, and inundated fifteen per cent of the city. More than 50,000 homes and buildings were destroyed by the tsunami, destroying the vibrant city centre, and most of its seaport and land transportation infrastructure was lost. Nearly 3000 people died and approximately 2800 were recorded missing.

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